Today was the groundbreaking for the new Cubs spring training baseball complex. Upon arriving, at Dobson Rd. and 8th St. guests were greeted by the familiar Mesa Hohokams and then directed to a parking area which sent vehicles on an off-road trip over the rolling hills of what had been Mesa’s Riverview Golf Course. When I got there at 7:40am, the thermometer in my car read 99 degrees.
A decent size crowd was on hand, several hundred, perhaps more. It was standing room only, as all the bleachers set-up for the event were filled. Local Mesa dignitaries, and Cubs related personnel were seated on the stage. Former Cubs Catcher Jody Davis was the MC and introduced the speakers, which included: Cubs owner and chairman Tom Ricketts and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, along with some of those heading up construction of the new complex.
This blog is not a detailed run-down of what was said, but I did take photographs of the festivities, which you can see here on Flickr. There was an emphasis by Mesa Parks and Recreation Advisory Board member Mark Yarbrough, that while this is a baseball complex for the Cubs, it’s also going to be an amazing city park for Mesa, which will be open to the public year-round. A keypoint was that the stadium itself will be a 360 degree experience. This means that fans can walk all about the stadium during a game and see what’s going on from different vantage points. Other amenities will be multiple entrances to the park, heavily landscaped grounds, a large, open concourse, and a seating bowl with 70% of the seats in the shade.
Notably absence was any speaker or signage from Arizona State University, which is looking to be a baseball tenant at the new complex. It’s likely that some details are yet to be worked out between the Cubs and ASU. Although after today’s ceremony, Cubs executives seemed confident that a deal will be worked out.
Jody Davis and Tom Ricketts both echoed sentiments that this spring training/Western Headquarters is going to be an important factor in the Cubs being competitive, and help the team reach the ultimate goal of winning a World Series. The new Mesa facility along with the team’s other new complex being built in the Dominican Republic will give the Cubs state of the art facilities in both these competitive areas. The Cubs expect to start playing games at the new Mesa stadium in spring 2014.
Today’s upbeat festivities followed on the heals of the recent signings of Cubs first round draft pick Albert Almora and 20 year old Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler. Add to that the emergence of young slugger Anthony Rizzo, and the Cubs future certainly looks to be on the upswing.
One of the local Mesa little league teams (Westwood) was on hand, the youngsters played ball after the shovels broke ground. You’ve got to give it to the kids for the effort, as it was pretty warm by then. I found out how warm when I arrived back at my car at 9:45am to a thermometer that read 114 degrees. Nothing like summer in the desert, but in Mesa, spring is the thing!